Marquesha Torres has been getting the same type of attention on the softball diamond for Western Oklahoma State College this season. The sophomore from Chickasha leads the region in almost every major offensive statistical category.
"Everybody knows she is the most feared hitter in the league," said WOSC coach Jarred Stidham. "She may get walked a lot. They started pitching around her because no one wants to pitch to her. We'll see. If they walk her, it's a double because she'll steal the base."
Torres compiled a .489 batting average, 16 homeruns and 60 RBIs to win the region's triple crown. She also has a Bonds-like slugging percentage of .938, with 50 runs scored and 13 stolen bases.
Stidham said that her work last year was big in her development for this season.
"Marquesha was the assistant coach last year so she knows exactly what's going on with the program," Stidham said. "I guarantee it helped. It gave her a different mental approach to the game and what I expect. She is definitely a leader on the field. It's been a phenomenal year and she is a phenomenal athlete."
The Lady Pioneers (40-23) look to ride Torres' mojo into postseason. They play Friday at 2 p.m. in the first round of the NJCAA Region II softball tournament at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. Their first round opponent is Eastern Oklahoma, a team Western has played eight times and beaten six.
If the No. 4 seeded Lady Pioneers defeat Eastern (40-20) then they will play No. 1 seed Seminole (51-18) at 7 p.m.
"They beat us four times in the regular season," Stidham said. "All were close ball games and we felt we should have won three of the games we lost."
For much of the season the Lady Pioneers were without the services of their best player from last year. In 2004 Alli Flaman struck out 291 batters and was fifth in the nation in that category. Flaman missed 15 games with various injuries and was unable to produce like she wanted.
But the sophomore from Wetaskiwin, Alberta, is back on the rise and just in time for Western's postseason run.
"Lately I have been pitching a lot, trying to get back in shape," Flaman said. "Throwing hard again. I not quite back, but I am up there where I can be. When I am throwing 60 (mph) I will know I am back in shape, ready to go."
Joining Flaman in the battery will be Tao Tiger and Ashley Phillips. But it is Hillary Brandt who has been the ace of the staff this year. The Edmond freshman has 155 strikeouts and only three walks, which helped her comprise a 19-9 record and a 1.74 ERA.
"I am very excited," Flaman said. "I think we have a very good chance to win it as long as everybody works together as a team. Everybody just needs to hit at the right time. And play defense as well as we all can."
While the Lady Pioneers defense has been shaky at times this season, their offense has been consistently devastating. With 33 homers, a .321 average and 272 RBIs, Western can put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses.
Yet, with much of the focus on Torres, it's the rest of the lineup that will play the pivotal roles in winning a region title. Alyssa Miller, Tao Tiger, Brandt, Amberly Brown and Randi Moore will have to come through in the clutch.
"It's going to be real important," Stidham said. "If they pitch around her (Torres)...We have three kids that can really wear it out and hit it a long ways. It could come down to that, the hitters surrounding her."
Reach Michael Kinney at firstname.lastname@example.org